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Credit: Darian Kovacs

It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. We put these local beverages and their many flavours, from Rosé to Spruce Bud, to the taste test

It’s the peak of summer, the sun is hot, and we’re chasing the most refreshing vodka soda of the season. I know what you’re thinking—with so many ready-to-drink options to choose from, finding the perfect one is a daunting task. Fortunately, I have previous experience, having reviewed local brands Nude and Nütrl. Since then, I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur, tasting all the other fine vodka-based beverages made in B.C. as I search for my absolute favourite (pun intended). Here’s a sampling.

Fit Hard Soda

Surrey-headquartered Central City Brewers + Distillers is back at it with this new offering, sweetened with zero-calorie monk fruit. You can buy Fit Hard Soda in a mixed eight-pack that includes Dark Cherry (similar to White Claw; see below) and three other flavour sensations.

  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Calories: 89
  • Flavours: Dark Cherry, Lemon With Rose, Mandarin, Pineapple
  • Tasting notes: Light and fresh, with pleasant aromas; stronger smell than flavour

Purpus Vodka

Here comes yet another vodka soda in a plain white can, but at least they added a word-search puzzle. I’ll give them some creativity points for that. Purpus has unique names to match its diverse flavours—there’s even a Rosé (packaged in pink to stand out) that sounds just right for summer. The Vancouver-based brand, which exhorts drinkers to “find your purpus” (get it?), comes in single-flavour six-packs. I’m looking forward to a mixer so I can try one of each.

  • ABV: 6%
  • Calories: 120
  • Flavours: Guilty Pleasure Rosé, Ludicrous Lime, Prosperous Peach, Strawberry Sunset
  • Tasting notes: Light and well blended

Pyur Vodka Soda

After years of sporting a basic logo that resembled an infinity symbol or a Métis flag, Pyur has unveiled new branding that’s crisp and clean, much like its flavours. “Today is yours. Power your unique reality,” the Vancouver company’s website says in a departure for booze brands. How thoughtful of them. You can find Lime, Passionfruit, Peach and Raspberry in Pyur’s 12-pack, but there are more flavours—among them Botanical, which features gin.

  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Calories: 90
  • Flavours: Blueberry, Botanical, Coconut, Lime, Peach, Passionfruit, Raspberry, Sonic (soda and tonic)
  • Tasting notes: Aroma is faint but true to taste, especially Coconut. Flavours are light, though some give off a hint of cough syrup

Remix Vodka Soda

Going with the retro DJ look and feel, this drink wants to be the one in your hand as you dance the night away. Rumour has it that Vancouver’s Red Truck Beer Co. is the force behind the brand. Available in eight- and 12-packs, Remix is unique because true to its name, it mixes popular flavours together.

  • ABV: 5%
  • Calories: 100
  • Flavours: Blood Orange Tangerine, Lemon Lime, Mango Passionfruit (not a typo—they mixed them!), Raspberry Lemon (again, not a typo)
  • Tasting notes: Perfume-y, floral, confusing; some flavours could pass for swamp water, while others go down like a Jolly Rancher

SouthSide Beverage Co.

This is the first vodka soda brand I’ve seen without a white base can. Wize added some colour and Pyur some stripes, but Smithers-based SouthSide chose a forest green and gold, giving its packaging a Pacific Northwest vibe with a classy twist. The company went bold with its flavours, too, by introducing a risky Spruce Bud flavour. It works! SouthSide’s Lemon is the strongest-tasting and one of my favourite vodka sodas so far. I haven’t tried Maple yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

  • ABV: 5%
  • Calories: 100
  • Flavours: Cranberry, Lemon, Maple, Spruce Bud
  • Tasting notes: The best flavours of the bunch. You can’t taste the vodka, proving that SouthSide is well blended. Less fizzy than its rivals, it makes up for that in taste

White Claw Hard Seltzer

Owned by Vancouver-based Mark Anthony Group, the brains behind Mike’s Hard Lemonade, White Claw recently entered the Canadian market with its hard seltzers. Its wild success stateside has given it a strong reputation, which made me skeptical, but the 12-can variety pack doesn’t disappoint. Flavour-wise, I find the Ruby Grapefruit a little weak, but the Mango and Black Cherry are terrific.

  • ABV: 5%
  • Calories: 100
  • Flavours: Black Cherry, Mango, Natural Lime, Ruby Grapefruit
  • Tasting notes: Strong, solid fruit flavours, with no aftertaste. Goes down well cold or warmish

Wize Spirits

Wize has changed things up with a fun owl logo and pastel colours. I can’t help but wonder where its name comes from. Should I feel smarter when I drink this stuff, like a wise owl? Or maybe its Vancouver makers are Harry Potter fans? The brand’s unique flavours include Lavender Elderflower (similar to the juice at Ikea). Just make sure to sink that one cold—if it gets warm, it gives off a soapy, perfume-y taste and smell. Still, Wize does great job of standing out from the crowd! I’m keen to try its Vanilla Cola.

  • ABV: 5%
  • Calories: 100
  • Flavours: Lavender Elderflower, Lemon, Lychee Lime, Passionfruit, Root Beer, Vanilla Cola
  • Tasting notes: Subtle, balanced and well blended